At this point, it’s only fitting that the game many are claiming to be America’s new pastime — football — is trying its best this year to wrestle the title of most incompetent away from two of the institutions that have long embodied the country: Professional baseball, and the federal government.
The NFL is in the throes of dysfunction after another trying week amidst the second major spike of COVID-19 and they’re too stubborn and inconsistent to offer any sort of tangible game plan as to how they’ll continue dealing with the virus moving forward.
Leading up to the thick of the Week 12 action, nearly 20 members of the Baltimore Ravens have tested positive for COVID-19, including star quarterback Lamar Jackson, and their mammoth NFC North tilt against the Pittsburgh Steelers was pushed back from Thanksgiving Day to Monday night.
Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos have zero quarterbacks available because they were close contacts and the team was forced to play during its originally-scheduled time slot Sunday afternoon against the New Orleans Saints.
The San Francisco 49ers have no place to play after Santa Clara tightened its COVID-19 restrictions.
The Saints and Patriots were fined a combined $850,000 for violating NFL protocols pertaining to the virus.
The league is a mess.
Yet commissioner Roger Goodell continues moving forward with what can only be described as a money grab of a season, putting players and personnel — and their families — in danger every week just to get his product on television.
There are no legitimate contingency plans, no true punishments for players and teams who violate the rules. Fines and late-round draft picks are simple slaps on the wrist for multi-billion-dollar teams.
Teams who are lower on the standings and have been impacted by the virus have seemingly been left out to dry — just look at the Broncos’ treatment compared to that of the Ravens.
Granted, the Broncos did nothing to help their case by not quarantining a quarterback for a scenario just like this.
It’s clear that health and safety is not the top priority of the NFL, just money — which should really be no surprise. The NFL profits off their Breast Cancer Awareness month with players and stadiums alike drenched in pink, allocating a ridiculously small amount to actual research. Over-the-top displays of patriotism, including the national anthem and flyovers have long been linked with paydays for the league as well.
None of it really feels authentic, and the league’s handling of the virus feels exactly the same way.